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 Posted: Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 06:16 pm
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javal1
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Some of you may have seen the news stories we have posted on the frontpage and news page of CWi. But what really struck me were the final two sentences of the story...

The panel also is recommending that the museum explore forming a partnership with the state's departments of tourism and historic resources to help promote it and with other Virginia historical groups and museums.
    Several suggested that the state create a visitors center in Richmond that would direct tourists to museums and historic sites.



OK...am I only only one shocked that these two things aren't in place already?! Can it be true that a city with Richmond's rich history doesn't have a Visitor's Center? Can anyone more familiar with the city confirm this?



 Posted: Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 08:48 pm
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MAubrecht
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Honestly, there is a lot lacking in the Richmond area in regards to historical preservation and tourism. The urban sprawl that they have allowed to suffocate the MOC and Confederate White House is deplorable. My own theory (and I have had this supported somewhat by several members of the SCV) is that the large African-American (and I struggle to use that term as I don't believe any of them are African) representation throughout the city's local and surrounding government tends to frown upon spending dollars on it's Civil War history. Therefore (my theory) is that public funding and money is not appropriated as easily, or as readily in order to support the tourism that glorifies Confederate history. Monument Avenue has been ignored off and on through the years, the MOC is the best thing going and they are not fairing well economically. Richmond's leaders are too interested in moving on into the future w/ big business and development and as a result, it has neglected its past. They are all excited about luring NEW things in like the Nascar Hall of Fame and Celebrate VA theme parks - not maintaining and improving Civil War sites. I thank God that I'm 50 mi. north in Fredericksburg, where CW tourism isn't only cherished - it's constantly being improved and expanded. I say shame on you to Richmond's current leaders and wish them nothing but failure in these other ventures. If I sound bitter, I am - and I pray the MOC comes out of this travesty OK in the end.



 Posted: Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 08:53 pm
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8NJVI
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There is a Visitor Center at the Tredegar Iron Works site operated by the NPS.

A good compromise might be to leave the White House of the Confederacy where it is -- primarily for historical purposes -- and provide better parking, but move the Museum of the Confederacy to a different, more accessible location in the city. 

Museum admissions might increase at a new location, and tourists can be directed separately to the White House.  Location of the current Museum building could become parking for White House visitors.

Basically, the location of the White House is historically important and worth protecting and preserving on site, but the Museum can really be anywhere -- it's currently housed in a modern building.  What's he difference if it moves to another modern building in a better location?



 Posted: Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 09:02 pm
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MAubrecht
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Basically, the location of the White House is historically important and worth protecting and preserving on site, but the Museum can really be anywhere -- it's currently housed in a modern building.  What's he difference if it moves to another modern building in a better location
I couldn't agree more. Somehow though, I don't believe people outside of the area realize just how bad it is. The hospital parking garage literally engulfs the entire corner where the MOC and WHofC sits.

If you walked by too fast - you would miss the entire MOC and the WHofC entrance. The fact that it got that bad is inexcusable regardless of what plan of action they decide to take.

You can tell how beautiful that section of town used to be and the concrete jungle that has "overgrown" it is an eyesore.



 Posted: Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 09:51 pm
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8NJVI
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You're correct that growth around the site is inexcusable, and I suspect your theory about why it happened has merit too.

Nonetheless, there is no way a modern medical complex is going to be torn down at this point.  Something needs to be done to make the best of a bad situation.

The White House's location has major historical importance, while the museum (the revenue producer) could be moved elsewhere.  The White House would become something like the tavern in New York City where Washington resigned from the Continental Army -- an historical relic surrounded by modern skyscrapers.  This is unfortunate, but it's the only practical option.



 Posted: Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 02:12 am
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MAubrecht
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Yes great points one and all. Also, please let me add (for those here that may not know me well) that my original statement is in no way stated in reference to ALL black Richmond citizens and/or leaders. I do not want to come off as racist, as that was not my intent. My point is that many people here in the VA area (some in office - mostly minorities) only appear to recognize CW history when it can be used as a pawn in their political agenda and they tend to use opportunities (when available) to "play the race card" in order to gain public support. Not all - but some. The MOC and WHofC are wonderful places that pay tribute to BOTH black and white Virginians - yet they are consistently disrespected by the local Government and Corporate BigWigs.



 Posted: Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 05:24 am
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Hellcat
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Since I don't live in the Richmond area, I decided to do an online search for a visitors center in Richmond just for S&Gs. According to MapQuest, the address and phone number is:

405 N 3RD St
Richmond, VA 23219-1705  
(804) 783-7450



 

That said, I have to wonder a few things. First, how old the information is? If it's up to date, then this does suggest there is a visitors center still in the city. But if it's no longer up to date, then the visitors center could have moved or could have been closed.

Second, who runs the visitor center if it is still open? In the context of what Javal1 said, I wonder if this center is run by the state or city governments or if it is run by a group of volunteers. If the former, then why the need to suggest creating a special visitor center just for directing folks to museums and historical sites rather than suggesting putting state or city funds towards a section of the exsiting center for that exact purpose and making sure there are signs directing folks to the visitor center? If it's the latter, then why not set it up so that it's run by the state or city goverment.

Either way, a third question can be raised as to how often it's staffed and the competence of the folks on "duty" when someone is there? If it's staffed maybe once or twice a week, and then it is just little more than a set of restrooms and a brochure stand with maybe some vending machines for drinks and snacks. If it is staffed on a daily basis, then are the folks little more than glorified janitors for whom the most they do besides keeping the place clean is to maybe provide directions if they know them? Or are they fairly knowledgeable about the area and can actually suggest good spots to eat, decent shopping place, and local attractions to visit? And we have to keep in mind that if it's staffed daily then the last two questions have to be asked on a daily basis as you could go in on one day and not get anything worth the trouble of asking while the following day they could tell you a hundred great places to go.

Finally, is this just a baisc visitor center or does it include a resturant or two (and I would count a fastfood joint here) and maybe a place to get gas?



 Posted: Thu Mar 2nd, 2006 11:54 pm
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VirtualCivilWar
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I used to live in Alexandria, and my wife (before we were married) lived in Richmond.  I was there almost every weekend.  The Tredegar Iron Works does have a vistor's center in it, and a pretty nice little museum.....but if you don't know it is there, you will never find it.  If you go to Tredegar, you can walk across a foot bridge that takes you over to Belle Isle where they had a huge prison camp, but you would never know it unless someone told you.  If I remember right there is one sign on the whole island mentioning the camp, and it is impossible to figure out where it used to be (without a photo from the war to help you).

Richmond has definetly grown to the point that you really have to know where you are going to find the Civil War locations.  It is rich with history, but I agree that the current climate there is not one in which the Civil War is looked on as even important.  Heck, Governor Warner even did away with Confederate History Month.  Luckily those guys down there in the SCV have kept their parade alive, but 2 years ago I was the only member of the press to cover the parade, and I couldn't get a single newspaper to use any of my images.  It was up to me to help promote what the SCV accomplished.

We love Richmond, it is a great city, and if you know where to look, there is so much there.......but I agree that it is becoming a huge problem.  Heck, the first time my wife and I wanted to see the White House of the Confederacy, we went up and down the block 3 times trying to figure out where it was......and what made it worse is that she attended grad school at VCU and had classes right across the street from the WH and we STILL couldn't see it.  The trees were overgrown and blocking the building and the history marker in front of it.

I absolutely love the Museum of the Confederacy, and the WH is amazing to walk through......but I do fear for their futures if something does not change soon!

Mike

http://www.virtualcivilwar.com



 Posted: Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 01:51 pm
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susansweet2
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I agree with what others have said here.  On my visit to Richmond finding sites was really hard to do.  My trip to the Museum of the Confederacy became a comedy of errors as I drove around and around looking for the building first of all.  Then when I found it I think I circled in and out of the parking lot as it wasn't clear that this was also the parking lot for the Museum as well as the hospital.  I thought I was in the wrong place.  By the time I realized I could park in the structure I was so frustrated .  The visitors center at the Tredegar Iron Works does have information .  I did get a driving tour  of the surrounding battlefields there.  But that is another story.  Trying to find each of the sites in the urban sprawl was not fun for someone driving alone.  Try to read a map and pay attention to traffic.  There was that left turn across a double double line to get into the site of Beaver Dam.  Scary . 

I think I spent most of my time trying to find the Civil War related sites. But then I had trouble finding the Edgar Allan Poe house too.   
I will say I did get some maps and flyers from the State visitors center before I left California to head east.  I had written to them and requested information.  They sent a nice set of  brochures and maps .  Just would have been nice to have signs in the city to direct visitors. 

Anyone going to Richmond do not miss the Museum.  It was the highlight of the visit.  Sad that it and the White House are sooooo over shadowed.

Susan



 Posted: Sat Mar 4th, 2006 06:04 pm
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arooper
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I was just in Richmond for a day, and while we didn't arrive with a plan, we did have a UT startech smart phone, so we just looked up historic sites in Richmond, and there was no central database for everything they have, but front and center they had the Hollywood cemetery and the Confederate White House.



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